Tuesday, May 22, 2007

supposition on a mess

In the comments section of my post about the Ethiopian Adoption mix-up Maggie said,

Wow. That is one HUGE mess. I don't know enough about Ethiopian adoptions to understand how in the world this happened. Didn't they realize they were given the wrong child when they went to pick them up? Or did an escort bring their child? I'm confused.

If possible, can you explain the generic process that would have enabled this mistake to happen? I'm not asking for the specific details of these families’ stories -- just the process of adoption in Ethiopia.

I wish there was an easy answer to that. I think most of us in the Ethiopian Adoption community are just as confused as you are. Here's what I believe happened.

In the Ethiopian adoption program the children are adopted through the Ethiopian courts via a power of attorney before the parents actually meet the child. Each case went through courts with the correct paperwork (and child) assigned to the correct parent. It seems that the mix up came in getting the correct child, with the correct paperwork, when it came time for the parents to pick up their children.

The Smiths traveled a couple of weeks before the Jones. They had been referred a very young infant, baby B, who was recovering from malnutrition and they had only received one photo of her, which had been taken several months prior. When they were given baby A, with all the paperwork saying she was the child they were referred, they had no clue there could have been a mix-up.

The Jones traveled a week or two later and knew right away that the child that was presented to them, baby B, was not the child they had been referred, baby L, and had adopted through the Ethiopian court system. They frantically tried to contact AG to see what they should do about the Embassy appointment and were unable to talk to anyone. They had family in the States also trying to reach the agency without success. When they finally did talk to an agency representative they were told that the jet-lag must be affecting them and they were in a weird state of mind. AG assured them that there was no way they had the wrong child.

So, the Smith family came home with baby A, who had all the paperwork saying she was baby B. The Jones came home with baby B, who had all the paperwork saying she was baby L, and baby L stayed in the orphanage with paperwork saying no one knows what. (Or at least no one is telling!) How all this didn’t get caught by the embassy is unknown to me. I imagine that since infants that young change so much, so quickly, they embassy just assumed that the child presented with the paperwork of A must then in fact be A.

So, now there are 3 children involved, one of which is still in Ethiopia and all of their adoptions and US citizenship is at stake. A true and complete nightmare!!


Maggie said...

Wow. Thanks for the explanation.

Mom of 5 said...

How tragic !

Debbie said...

Wow! I just read your previous post about this whole mess.
I don't think going to the media would solve anything.
I hope and pray these families are able to work everything out.
How terrible.